An Anime Review: Cutie Honey

Cutie Honey

For this review I decided to look back at one of the first full anime series to feature a female lead, Cutie Honey. Cutie Honey, first aired in 1973, wasn’t the first anime to have a heroine lead, but it was one of the first of its kind to actually receive high ratings and gain popularity and franchising. It’s been adapted and reproduced in several titles from the popular Cutie Honey Flash to the laughably bad live action series, Cutie Honey: The Live. The only constant in each version is the opening theme. This anime is also considered the first of the “transforming magical girl” genre, though it was Sailor Moon that set the standards of today’s magical girl anime. The style to Cutie Honey was quite unique as well, employing colorful, almost surreal backgrounds that were pleasing to the eye.

The original Cutie Honey follows 16-year-old Honey Kisaragi, who is a joker and a “class clown” at her school. While attending Saint Chapel School for Girls, she enjoys pulling pranks, sneaking out of classes, and torturing two of her teachers, Alphonne and Miharu. Actually most of the comic relief of this series happens in her exploits and antics at school. The story starts when Honey finds her father has been murdered by a strange organization known as Panther Claw and that they are after a special invention of his, something that’s in her. Honey Kisaragi then realizes that she’s an android with the ability to transform and fight against the members Panther Claw, who want the device in her neck that allows her to transform.

In this series, Panther Claw wants to use the device to copy and create gems thus collecting the all of the wealth of the world. While I could argue the flaws in this plan, such as the mass production of such gems decreasing their value, the main point of the show is the transforming heroine. The main point and what makes the original Cutie Honey fun is to see the many different forms the heroine can take. The most common forms in this series would be photographer Flash Honey, model Fancy Honey,  biker Hurricane Honey, singer Misty Honey, stewardess Idol Honey, and of course the “warrior of love” Cutie Honey. There are many other forms taken at different points throughout the series as she fights against Panther Claw to protect the device and to get revenge for her father’s death.

Honey is quite notably a more mischievous type of heroine, often teasing and mocking her opponents during her fights, but what likely accounts for much of this show’s popularity is how the show scores fan service points where ever possible. Honey is quite often scantily clad and is actually naked during the transformations, unlike what you would usually expect from a magical girl transformation sequence, where the body is hidden by glowing lights and colors and such until the clothes begin to form. However, this was the 70’s after all, and this series keeps certain body parts tastefully hidden throughout.

Throughout the series, Honey is helped by the Hayami family, consisting of a father and two sons. This is where the show’s intended genre begins to shine through, as the magical girl genre technically didn’t exist at this time. Cutie Honey was initially intended to be a Shoujo anime with a flare of science fiction and bring at least a small amount of focus to the relationship between Honey and the eldest son of the Hayami family, Seiji. It is only in retrospect that this is called a magical girl anime. As far as I’m concerned, the relationship that one would barely call a romance only served as a backdrop to certain developments in Honey’s revenge against Panther Claw.

Overall, this show is pretty decent and I enjoyed watching it. Honey is fun, witty, and has a sex appeal that draws in her audience, although I have to admit it was rather lost on me. I suppose being a girl makes the fan service of this show ineffective for me, but I did like the fact that the fan service was tasteful and not overly or awkwardly used throughout the show, unlike other anime, including some of the remakes of this show.

The plot has some tiny holes that you likely won’t even care about once you get into the fun of the different transformations and adventures. I recommend this to anyone who likes magical girl anime and to anyone of the proper age and maturity to handle the fan service. Unfortunately this series has become quite difficult to find online. While the entire series was once viewable on Youtube, I had to dig and search the recesses of the web to find just about anything beyond the opening video to refresh my memory on this series. Then again, I’m not a web-searching expert, there is likely somewhere I have not found that may still have the full series for you to watch. If you are unable to find this anime, I recommend looking into Cutie Honey Flash, the remake that most resembles and actually, in some ways, improves upon the original.

Posted on June 21, 2012, in Anime and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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